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The Games Tabulation
Ballgames from 1845 through 1860
Compiled by Craig B. Waff
the Games Tabulation
At the Seymour Conference at Cleveland in April 2007 John Thorn informed
me of two such compilations: the baseball (actually,
“The National Game”) section of Charles A.
Peverelly’s Book of American
Pastimes (New York: self-published, 1866)
and Marshall D. Wright’s The
National Association of Base Ball Players, 1857-1870 (Jefferson,
N.C., and London: MacFarland and Company, 2000). Peverelly’s compilation has been
reprinted as Peverelly’s National
Game, ed. by John Freyer and Mark Rucker (Charleston, S.C.:
Arcadia Publishing, 2005), whose page numbers are cited in the
tables mounted on this Web site.
Limits of Existing Publications: But as I began comparing the newspaper accounts that I was finding to
the games listed or tabulated in these volumes, I realized that a significant
number of “base ball”-related games were not included in these
books. The reasons why became
Peverelly’s game listings were derived from historical accounts
that he solicited from senior clubs that were members of the National
Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP)
in 1866, the year his book was published.
Games played by clubs no longer existing at that time (for example, the Pastimes and Putnams of Brooklyn)
are mentioned only (if at all)
indirectly in their opponents’ game listings. Wright’s volume, as its title
implies, is also similarly concerned with clubs that joined the NABBP; games
played by other clubs are included (if at all)
only if they were against NABBP opponents.
Wright acknowledged that he relied heavily on Peverelly for the period
prior to 1867. Although he did consult
game accounts in issues of the New York
Clipper and such newspapers as the New
York Times and the Boston Herald,
he did so primarily only in order to compile player statistics, not to discover
the existence of hitherto unknown games.
In fact, for the period prior to 1861, I eventually determined that he
tabulated only a very small number of games not listed in Peverelly.
Because of their emphasis on NABBP ball playing, the compilations of
Peverelly and Wright thus essentially ignored the games played by senior clubs
that chose not to join the NABBP and junior clubs composed of players entirely
under the age of 21. Also, because
the clubs that had joined the NABBP prior to the Civil War were almost exclusively
from the Greater New York City region, one finds little information in the
Peverelly and Wright books concerning “base ball” games played
outside this region prior to 1861.
This situation in turn renders these books of little use in efforts to
document the recorded occurrence of related types of games, such as town ball
and the so-called “Massachusetts”
game of “base ball,” and the specific circumstances regarding the
geographical spread of the so-called “New York” game of “base
Besides these limitations, I found the compilations of Peverelly and
Wright dissatisfying in other respects.
They grouped game scores by teams (which in
effect nearly doubled the size of their compilations by having the scores
mentioned twice in most cases), while I was seeking a
comprehensive (i.e., all-team),
chronological listing that would allow me to perceive how a season developed,
day by day and week by week, much as we do in present time. I also wanted to know where games were
being played (which are mentioned only occasionally by
Peverelly and not at all by Wright). Finally, Peverelly and Wright provided
no information at all about where one could find contemporary (i.e., newspaper) accounts of specific games.
Scope of the Games
Tabulation. So what is the scope of my compilation, and
how have I organized it? I chose to
limit the scope temporally to the period from 1845 (the
year when Knickerbocker intra-club games began, and also when the first known
newspaper articles reporting game results appeared) to 1860 (the end date, at the time, of Protoball’s chronologies, and
also the last year of play prior to the beginning of the American Civil War). Before contemplating any longer coverage
period (such as one ending with the late 1860s, when
the number of games increased dramatically), it seemed prudent to
limit the games tabulation initially to a shorter period in order to gain some
understanding of the challenges involved in compiling such a tabulation.
In contrast, I placed no
geographical limitation on the tabulation.
There is of course one very large table concerning games played in the
Greater NYC region (which I defined as the area
encompassing the current five NYC boroughs, Westchester
County, and New
Jersey as far south as approximately Trenton and Lawrenceville). Nearly a score of much smaller tables
each focus on ball playing in a separate region (a very
small “non-NYC” table includes a few miscellaneous games that I
could not easily associate with games played in the selected regions).
I also placed no limitations on the level of play. I have included games regardless of
whether they were played by senior or junior teams; or by first, second, or
muffin nines. In this initial
version of the tables, I added a “Jr.” designation to a team only
if that characterization appeared in at least one newspaper account of the
game. At a later point I hope, in a
careful fashion, to add that label where appropriate to many other teams whose
junior status is known from other sources.
Also, the newspaper accounts in certain cases collectively failed to provide
the specific locations of certain teams.
At a later point, through lineup comparison, I hope to be able to
distinguish among two or more teams with identical names but playing in
different areas (e.g., “Young America,”
“Star,” or “Excelsior”).
The Approach: I began compiling the tables by tabulating
the approximately 300 pre-1861 games listed or tabulated in Wright and
Peverelly. As the tables will
indicate, their compilations for the pre-1861 period are almost identical. I then began to survey systematically
the online historical newspapers of the New
York Times (through ProQuest) and
the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (at the Brooklyn Public Library Web site). I next consulted the Mears Collection of
baseball clippings at the Cleveland Public Library, which for the pre-1861
period are mostly from the New York Clipper. At the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County I systematically surveyed issues
of the Spirit of the Times and Porter’s Spirit of the Times (information from the latter has so far been tabulated only up to
during a research trip to upstate New York and
New England in September 2008, I examined various local newspapers over short
periods of time in the public libraries of Buffalo,
Rochester, and Boston,
and Albany and Troy
newspapers in the New York State Library in Albany.
I hope soon to survey the New York
Clipper more systematically directly through the holdings at Miami University
and to consult systematically such publications as the New York Sunday Mercury (only briefly
viewed so far at the American Antiquarian Society library in Worcester,
Massachusetts), the New York Herald, and the New York Tribune.
Contents: The tables describe each game in four
of game and (in parentheses) the day of
the week it was played—It’s already quite evident that
virtually no games were played on Sunday and that the games were spread fairly
evenly across the days of the week.
and playing field—Tabulated information has been derived from contemporary
newspaper accounts of the games.
Some standardization of the playing-field information may be carefully
carried out at a later time. As is
well known, most playing fields of this period did not have specific names.
of game—In addition to the score, I have noted the number of innings
played (after the 9-inning rule was established, I
state the number of innings only if they were recorded to be shorter or longer
than that), and, where known, whether the game was a return
match or a deciding game of a home-and-home series. To enliven the tables, I have often
included in this column quotations from one or more of the newspaper accounts
of the game that reflect something of the perceived contemporary significance
of the game (e.g., estimates of attendance, general
assessments of the level of play or the quality of the teams, etc.). I have generally avoided quoting
discussions of the individual accomplishments of specific players; if I had,
the table would have expanded enormously.
In the tables of certain non-NYC regions (particularly,
I have noted where the game accounts have stated whether the game was
“town ball” or played by Massachusetts-game rules (rather than NY-game rules). For certain very significant games (such as the 1858 all-star games at the Fashion Course race track),
I have had to postpone inclusion of quotations to a later upload due to
limitations on the time I could devote to compiling the tables.
here have endeavored to include full bibliographic data (i.e.,
title of publication, volume and issue numbers, date of publication, and page
and column numbers), especially because SABR’s
Bibliography Committee has expressed interest in greatly expanding the number of
entries in The Baseball Index (TBI) to
cover newspaper accounts from the pre-1861 period. The sources (which
include Peverelly and Wright for comparison purposes only) are
listed in chronological order. When
an individual source differs on some point of information (such
as playing date or field or game score) from that generally
stated elsewhere, I have noted that variation in one of several different ways
in the entry. The sources listed
include not only actual game accounts and follow-up articles, but also
preliminary announcements of the scheduling of the game. That at first may appear to be overkill,
but quite often, I have found, the preliminary announcements may be the only
sources that provide the specific date and location of the game. I should also note that I have
occasionally cited game accounts that were reprinted in various books, such as
Preston D. Orem, Baseball, from the
Newspaper Accounts (Altadena, Calif.:
self-published, 1961) and Dean A. Sullivan, compiler and editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of
Baseball, 1825-1908 (Lincoln:
Univ. of Nebraska Press (1995).
Research Topics Enabled by the Tabulation:
For what purposes can these tables be used? First
and foremost, I would anticipate that they could be used to provide more
accurate measures than previously possible of the intensity of “base
ball” playing in the 1845-1860 period. Larry McCray has estimated that
the tables collectively list more than 1,500 games, which would be a fivefold
increase over the number of games listed in the Peverelly and Wright
compilations. Second, although much more research needs to be done in regions
outside Greater NYC, the tables provide much additional data concerning both
the playing of related games (e.g., Massachusetts-rules
and town ball) in the late 1850s and the fast- increasing
geographical spread of the NY-rules game during the same period. Third,
from the tables at this site, one can construct derivative tables listing all
games by a particular team (see, for example, the table
of Pastime of Brooklyn games [go here] that I
constructed for the Pioneer Project, which revealed a dramatically higher number
of games played by this team in 1858 and 1859 than was reported in
Then, with the sources listed for each game, one ought to be able write,
more easily than before, a more accurate history of that team. Fourth,
the same sources may also permit more accurate descriptions of an individual
player’s batting, running, fielding, and pitching accomplishments, and
the movements of players from team to team. Fifth,
the tables provide much information on the establishment, use, and, in some cases,
demise of fields where games were played.
Sixth, the quoted passages or
the original sources listed may yield new information on the etymological
history of certain terms or phrases or the development of new rules. Readers will likely conceive other uses.
Next Steps, and What Readers Can Do to Help: My own next goal is to complete tabulating game accounts in Porter’s Spirit of the Times from
mid-1859 up to the end of 1860. I
would also like to consult such sources as the New York Sunday Mercury, the New
York Herald, and the New York Tribune. Needless to say, I would welcome
assistance from those who may wish to help expand the coverage of the
table. In particular, local diggers
are needed to survey systematically local newspapers in regions outside
NYC. At present, the game accounts
cited in the non-NYC regional tables are mostly from NYC-based sports
weeklies. As an example of how such
surveys can greatly expand the coverage in a particular region, I would direct
your attention to the Capital Area of NY State (Upper
Hudson River Valley) table, where my systematic survey of
1859-1860 issues of the Troy Daily Whig
led to the discovery of a large number of accounts of games not mentioned in
the sports weeklies.
Acknowledgements: I should here like to acknowledge the
contributions of Priscilla Astifan (for news accounts
of the Excelsior 1860 tour games in Rochester), Larry McCray (for news clippings from the Syracuse region that have yet to be
tabulated), Dennis Pajot (for local
news coverage of games in the Milwaukee region), John Thorn (for his notes regarding his 1983 examination of the Knickerbocker
game books), and John Zinn (for his
systematic survey of 1860 issues of selected New Jersey newspapers).
In addition, I wish to express my indebtedness to Larry McCray of the
Protoball Project, for his unswerving support for this project since its
conception, and to Dave Smith, for his generous offer to mount this Games
Tabulation on the Retrosheet Web site.
Craig B. Waff
24 December 2008
In keeping with the policy of
Retrosheet and the Protoball Project, the material in the Games Tabulation is
intended to be freely used. However,
you must acknowledge the Protoball Games Tabulation, as Compiled by Craig Waff,
when information derived from the Tabulation is used in published form or is
posted to the web.
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